Queen Bee of The Brill: Ellie Greenwich and 35 of her cha-cha-charms

In general, the creators of popular music rarely get the credit that they deserve. Although we all have dozens of tunes that we (un)controllably hum in our heads due to the genius of composers forever having something memorable tunewise to offer, we oft deride such content as fluff. When you’re one of the rare women that’s been someone that’s contributed to crafting tastes, you pretty much hang out in the shadows, few recognizing your existence or importance.

101413-ellie_greenwich_617_409I started this series of mixes with Sylvia Moy. As we slide into the season we’re thankful for, I look east to Long Island and call in Eleanor Louise “Ellie” Greenwich. She should ring a bell, given that she was in a cadre of Jewish Middle Class Long Island female songwriters, a few cubicles over from Carole King and Cynthia Weil. Although like those two women, Ellie did work with eventual husband Jeff Barry in terms of a host of her compositions, she often worked independently, or with others, in a number of stages of the recording process. Between playing, doing demos, producing and songwriting her efforts holistically are perhaps the most diverse and omnipresent out of the three women.

Where her legacy may have struggled is with no huge hits of her own attached to her own name and face. Her biggest chart efforts as a singer/songwriter went to her made up group The Raindrops during 1963. Those efforts, which were Ellie multi-tracked with Jeff providing Orlons-like feedback on the singles, were promoted by teams of demo singers like Beverly Warren or Ellie’s own sister Laura lip syncing, since Greenwich was too busy and in demand cranking out huge hits like “Be My Baby” and “Then He Kissed Me” for other artists.

ellie-63044423Although she released a few LPs under her name, none of them caught the attention or fire in the way that Tapestry did for Carole King. So like Sylvia Moy, we honor the diversity of material, oft derided as simple teenage fluff, that Ellie Greenwich composed for more than a decade. Of course, some of the efforts are painfully dated, as a number of our songs of times past come to be as we question what we hold dear.

With that, sit back for 35 tunes from the Queen Bee of the Brill. I’m sure you’ll be thrilled.


1)The Drifters – I’ll Take You Where The Music’s Playing
2) Reparata & The Delrons – Do Wah Diddy
3) The Exciters – He’s Got The Power
4) Darlene Love – A Fine Fine Boy
5) The Four Pennies – When The Boy’s Happy (The Girl’s Happy Too)
6) The Crystals – All Grown Up
7) The Moody Blues – I Got A Dream
8) Ruth Brown – He Tells Me With His Eyes
9) Tim Considine – Take It From A Guy Who Knows
10) Gene Pitney – Keep Telling Yourself
11) The Popsicles – I Don’t Want To Be Your Baby Anymore
12) The Ronettes – Keep On Dancing
13) The Orchids – That Boy Is Messing Up My Mind
14) The Majors – I Wonder Who Is Dancing With Her Now?
15) The Crystals – Girls Can Tell
16) Lesley Gore – Maybe I Know
17) The Dixie Cups – Little Bell
18) Ray Peterson – Give Us Your Blessings
19) The Butterflys – I Wonder
20) The Jelly Beans – Baby Be Mine
21) Bobby Sheen – I Want You For My Sweetheart
22) The Shangri-Las – What’s A Girl Supposed To Do?
23) Sonny & Cher – Then He Kissed Me
24) Sam Hawkins – As Bad As They Come
25) Tony Pass – Spring Fever
26) Ike & Tina Turner – Hold On
27) The Meantime – A Friday Kind of Monday
28) The Beach Boys – I Can Hear Music
29) Cissy Houston – Be My Baby
30) Dusty Springfield – What Good Is I Love You?
31) The Shirelles – Look What You’ve Done To My Heart
32) Bimbi Worrick – Long Time Coming
33) Ellie Greenwich – Sunshine After The Rain
34) Jimmy Mack & The Music Factory – Baby, I Love You
35) Leslie Uggams – River Deep, Mountain High

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